A client with regulated profit margins and small offices in numerous cities was spending an inordinate amount of money on Yellow Page ads. They did this every year, often times in multiple phone books for each office (local, regional, etc.) The plethora of overlapping phone books made it difficult to track ad expenses to a specific office, and all but impossible to track ad effectiveness. They called me in when they were feeling pressured to expand their footprint to online YP ads as well.
My first advice to the client was to stop all YP purchases immediately until we could assess the situation. All calls were directed to me instead of the sweet girl in accounting who’d been pressured by the sales reps into renewing year after year.
Next I gathered a list of current clients and prospects and conducted targeted surveys via telephone. The overwhelming response confirmed our suspicions: my client’s business is relationship- and referral-based and absolutely none of the people surveyed would 1) even look in the YP for this kind of business, or 2) select this kind of business based off an ad at all. The amazing thing is, almost every company in this industry places half- or full-page display ads in the YP!! This is an incredible expense with absolutely no return!
My client stopped all display ads in the Yellow Pages. They pay a small fraction of their previous amount for a bold listing only. When the sweet girl in accounting now takes a call, she can state with confidence “our clients don’t look there for our type of business”. Their money is now spent where their clients are actually looking for them: educational seminars, community events and other places where they can demonstrate their expertise.
Doing anything just because you’ve always done it or because other companies in your industry are doing it is never a good idea. If your clients aren’t looking where you’re advertising, you’re wasting your money. Find out where your prospects are and meet them there! If you don’t know where they are, do a client survey and find out!
NOTE: By sharing this case study, I am in no way bashing Yellow Page advertising. The same situation could apply to any number of other advertising outlets.